Theater Five was ABC's attempt to revive radio drama during the early 1960s. The series name was derived from its time slot, 5:00 PM.
Running Monday through Friday, it was an anthology of short stories, each about 20 minutes long. News programs and commercials filled out the full 30 minutes.
There was a good bit of science fiction and some of the plots seem to have been taken from the daily newspaper.
Fred Foy, of The Lone Ranger fame, was an ABC staff announcer in the early 60s, who, among other duties, did Theater Five.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving old time radio, you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.
This is the Single Episode Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.
Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
September 11, 2022 Subject:
March 9, 2022 Subject:
There is a major upgrade project for T5 underway
Details are at... https://archive.org/details/T5project
Some of the upgrades are like night and day difference. All of the surviving episodes will be finished uploading by the end of October 2022 is much better sound.
This series has been ignored for too long...
July 28, 2020 Subject:
Wish the misspellings could be fixed . . .
Attraction #54 should be "Good Samaritans"
Attraction #242 should be "Casualty of a Small War" (unless it's supposed to be 'Causality' which is still misspelled.)
I really don't think there is anything wrong with the music. The various music played during most of the episodes is better than average, imo. I also think the intro music is kind of cool, honestly.
My top 5 episodes are:
Your Time Is Up
Discotheque (dated music but it works for the story)
Incident on U.S. 1
A Little Game on Saturday Mornings.
Other ok episodes:
Two Came Back (Also done on Escape. Escape's version is a little better, imo.)
The Imposters (Also done on Suspense. Both suffer from revealing the major twist in the story a bit too early.)
Noose of Pearls
Congratulations, Mr Mayor
The Protective Circle
Snow in April
A Dream of a Scheme
In Time of Trouble
The Underdeveloped Nation (Dated humor but still fun)
October 4, 2018 Subject:
Good stories, good acting, and I can hear everything!
Who left those 2 shameful 1964 Let's Heat Up the Cold War promotions in "The Manor House," a story as pointless as the Vietnam Conflict, with the same sort of DUH-WHAT, delayed ending?
Next (spoiler!), and this moved me to remove a star from my rating of this favorite series: "World Enough and Time" did in fact make me feel like kicking poor Mr. Desktop PC across the room, even dragging myself out of my comfy bed to do it! The insistence of lower-brow fictional tales on pretending that hospitals can hold patients prisoner, forcing them to devise nerve-tingling escapes in terror of consequences too frightening to even be KNOWN to any of us, is so dumb!! This episode of Theater Five carried it so far, it left me as confounded as the poor man who wanted only to leave and go board his bleeping plane! AWFUL STORY. They should have just staged it on a different planet, to account for the ridiculousness of holding someone prisoner in a hospital in case a bump on his head had caused a concussion. And for not having him just WALK OUT.
I've yet to be intruded upon by music DURING these stories, but the intro theme is jarring, unmusical, and ear-splitting, though no worse than the deafening scream of rusty hinges that go on and on at the start of CBS Radio Mystery Theater, or the screeeeeeeeeeeching door leading to the Inner Sanctum, or the continuous, monotonous WHISTLER intro, and MOST of the noises that open the most worthwhile radio dramas, not to mention the million commercials left intact in most of them (for the OTR aficionado princesses to swoon over).
But regarding music, I was wondering, is Theater 5 the series with an episode about two deadly spies, a woman and a man, traveling in a cross-country bus? If so, it had the most memorable music I've ever heard in a radio mystery. Just one little child, deep in the background, singing "On Top of Old Smoky" as passengers fell asleep for the night.
(Thank you for reply on that, newdickmorris. I can find it now and hear it again! That doesn't happen much. :o)
February 5, 2018 Subject:
Your Time is Up
Although I usually enjoy happy endings rather than realistic endings, I liked the story line a lot. It was confusing at first because I felt as though I was just starting to listen to the story five minutes in but the repetition of events and names done by the main character made everything much clearer by the middle of it. The sound effects going on with the story-line were good but at times were too loud or didn’t go along with what was happening. In one part in particular I could barely hear what the main character was saying over the sound effect. But overall I enjoyed listening to this. I especially like the heartfelt conversation that the husband and wife had over the phone because it gave the reader a personal touch before killing a character which made the ending a much bigger event that it would have been otherwise.
January 24, 2017 Subject:
Hits and misses
I've been listening to the entire series recently, and I have enjoyed it very much, most of the time. I always appreciate a competent and engaging audio play.
But there are a few rather notable flaws, the most apparent and egregious being the music. Even the incidental music bed during the play can be disrupting when it swamps the dialogue (and it does many times over the course of the series), but the intro, bumper and outro music is just plain wrong.
I'm not saying it's bad music or poorly done, because for one thing, it is done quite well, certainly no less accomplished than any such music at the time of its popular use in the industry, and for another thing, I enjoy music from all eras and kinds and genres and styles, and to me cheesy music is where you slice it, so to speak, and one man's cheesiness is another man's perfectly-suited-to-its-time-iness. I made up that phrase.
But for this series the music is blaringly wrong -- bombastic, overwrought, fit for television ads and cartoons, not dramatic productions. It tends to disrupt mood and atmosphere in some way in just about every episode I've heard thus far, which is about 80% now. It robs some episodes of their power and punch at the end, that is how badly it fits this series.
Also, I find the writing very hit and miss, and a few episodes had me wanting to kick my computer across the room for the sheer illiteracy and ignorance of the writing. Most of this series is just fine, but some may turn off listeners of radio drama who know what good writing sounds like.
The acting is almost always consistently competent and for the most part just plain good. I have been enjoying the surprise appearances of radio stalwarts of the era such as Robert Dryden, Ralph Bell, and Norman Rose, when they pop into an episode. Some of the most prolific and respected names in voice acting were used here and I always appreciate hearing them.
I am happy to find this series and enjoy it, surely, but its flaws are egregious enough to me to only give it a 3 on the scale.
January 17, 2017 Subject:
I'm still trying to figure out if I like this series or not, and the one thing that gets in the way is the soundtrack (music) The music often doen't reflect the mood of the scene, it's frequently intrusive, and it IS cheesy! But, in reality, what difference does it make? It's a bit too late to ask for the network to make a change. (Although, with the right computer programs, the music could be replaced) It IS interesting to hear stories from these particular years, and since I've heard every episode of Suspense and Escape multiple times, a change is nice. I'm about half way thru the series, I'll save judgement until I'm done.
October 31, 2016 Subject:
greats 1960s radio
I didn't know there were radio series still being broadcasted during the 1960s. i like the background music here and the speech is much more clear than on CBS Radio Mystery Theater and there are far less accents and annoying speech than CBS RMT. Still there is a little too much dramatic speech which distracts me from listening to the story. I would never want speech like PBS' Masterpiece Theater but want just clear plain speech without accents and very little dramatic tone. Shows like this are a godsend in healthclubs, retail stores or in the car where the music and radio playlists can make me really annoyed and agitated. Listening to this can chill me out.
October 27, 2016 Subject:
This is a show I'd not heard of.
Some winners here.
Nice, clean renditions.
October 24, 2016 Subject:
Great radio drama for contemporary audiences
Notwithstanding what others say here, the music is nice, sleazy jazz. Short, 20 minute stories. This is worthwhile stuff.
September 14, 2016 Subject:
Generally good stories, lousy music.
Like all attempts at "bringing back" radio drama, Theater Five just doesn't get it quite right. The sort of blaring music used, in particular, is obviously "sixties," and works against the feel of "old time radio."
Otherwise, the stories are pretty good, though "trite" in many cases, with unresolved endings
Nonetheless, it's one more series of radio dramas to listen to. I've heard most of the old ones.
April 21, 2016 Subject:
This is one of the best Suspense programs i've heard
January 8, 2016 Subject:
Awesome show. Discovered it by accident.
One of my all time favorite OTR-type programs. There is so much I want to say. First, a very odd show, in a way. For example, the plot was often left deliberately unresolved, and sometimes the bad guy got away with some awful crime. I am utterly shocked that, in 1964-65, it was able to be broadcast in the afternoon ("drive time"), since many episodes dealt with extremely controversial topics: rape, racism, teen pregnancy, child abuse, corporate greed and wrongdoing. There were episodes that revolved around situations "torn from the headlines" (e.g., the infamous '60s murder of a teen girl, witnessed by dozens of apartment dwellers, yet no one called the police or did anything to help). There are also episodes that were just plain unusual: "Flights of Angels" is unquestionably an attempt at portraying a drunken Orson Welles, at the height of his oratory, while having a conversation about acting, while sitting at a bar. "The Gandy Walker" is loosely based on the life of Woody Guthrie after he was hospitalized with Huntington's Disease, including his brief encounter with Bob Dylan while in the hospital. Oh, and finally, I need to mention "The Underdeveloped Nation", in which a U.S. Air Force pilot survives a plane crash, and despite numerous clues, he does not seem to be able to realize that he has landed in Oz. Have I given enough bits and pieces to grab your attention? Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this series. Give it a listen. You will love it. P.S.: In every episode, they asked listeners to write in, and they gave their address. I bet they got some fascinating letters!
I don't think a similar show could get on the air today.
September 5, 2015 Subject:
Glad to find this
I have never heard of Theater Five. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. Lots of variety.
April 18, 2015 Subject:
Ive never heard such writing, such an amazing show. "Bang Bang Youre Dead" holy cr!p! Excellent audio. Great recording. Thanks a lot for ruining my whole night, because these are impossible to turn off once you get started.
These are short stories of all kinds. Suspense! Pathos! Sci Fi! Drama! you name it.
What a cool show and awesome upload. Thanks so much for the files
PS the music is great too- jazzy, complex intro and effects. The baby-sitter episode about the liar had the Beatles in it: "Bug Off". Suspenseful. Highly recommended show. Must listen.
December 20, 2014 Subject:
These shows are really interesting - it's an always varying mix of Sci-Fi, apocalyptic stories and straight-forward pieces, some which include admirable social critique. I REALLY like the mix of stories as compared to other series and there are lots of them, too. The odd twists and turns are most like The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock shows.
This is a wonderful chest of treasures to complement those other superior series. I'm giving it a top rating, though, because it is so enjoyable, varies subject often and keeps your interest.
August 14, 2013 Subject:
"Hit and Run" ends at 7 min. This was the low-res download. Is it the same for the high-res?
August 20, 2012 Subject:
Anyone else notice that the wife in "Jailbreak" is the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz? Can't mistake that voice.
May 26, 2012 Subject:
The Last Of The Best
THEATER FIVE was one of the last of the best of old time radio genre. Great storylines - especially if you are a sci-fi fan. If you like Dimension X, X Minus 1, you will like this. Great moral and social premises which is a major component of any scifi story. Unlike some of the newer scifi stories out there that give too much emphasis on the science component rather than the fiction component, Theater Five joins one of the few elite group of classics that told a story with science components.
Special thanks to OTRR for uploading this. Your effort is much appreciated.
April 6, 2012 Subject:
Apparently no one else seems to notice that Theater Five episodes all seem to have unresolved endings. I do like this show and love the atmosphere but they all end very awkwardly. Still a great show. I haven't heard them all but so far my favorites are "Fog" and "The Flea Circus".
November 2, 2011 Subject:
Highly Entertaining & Provocative Tales -- High Quality Productions
As another review noted, many of these 20-minute tales are gritty. I've only listened to about 50 programs so far and I'm eager to hear them all. If you enjoy X-Minus One, Dimension X, Twilight Zone, CBS Radio Mystery Theater, among others, then relish these Theater Five productions. Some are disturbing in their focus on the dark side of human nature. So far, the series reminds me of Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ayn Rand style of story telling.
The stark lack of sentimentality stands out among other "feel good" programs.
Of note, episode 51, All The Bright Young Ones, a story about a future society in which those age 41+ are forcibly retired to old people's centers on edges of society so the world can be managed by the young. The "old people" are forced to live in hiding.
Episode 47, The Last Land Rush, tells the story of a future over-populated world where citizens turn on one another violently as they stake out a patch of open ground in a surviver style government land program.
The production quality is superior and the writing is stellar. Highly recommended for your listening pleasure.
June 22, 2011 Subject:
Well kept secret
I listened to some of the recommendations and the first couple of weeks. This series is too good to be forgotten. The stories are similar in style and quality to the 1951 TV series Tales of Tomorrow, also available here.
The performances are gritty, and the stories uncluttered with too much background story, leaving much more to the imagination. The effect is stronger than CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Fans of CBSRMT will also discover some familiar voices.
For conveneince I downloaded this from the zipped page.
Note: episode 227 stars Alan Alda.
July 28, 2010 Subject:
'Discotheque' is my favorite one
I've listened to half of the shows and considering this was a daily broadcast the quality is pretty good. The best show so far I would say with no doubts was 'Discotheque'. This one would have made a great Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode. Whoever wrote this particular show was brilliant, I listened to it four times and kept catching more insight and nuances each time.
March 8, 2010 Subject:
Theater Five is Excellent!
Being a radio drama and 1960s buff I've been listening to this show for a while and have heard almost all of the episodes. I find them creative, stylish, well acted, and have that 1960s atmosphere I love.
The worst one is that one with the stamps...too ridiculous. The best are "It's a work of Art", the nuclear shelter one, "Fog", and many others.
September 8, 2009 Subject:
Now to the show. I really find this show quite fun to listen to, it's not as good as Golden Age'd Radio classics such as Suspense, Escape, Gunsmoke, ETC but it is fun to listen to, some of the stories can be quite engrossing.
August 31, 2009 Subject:
I enjoy these shows, even though they are not from the 40's era. Bad news is that I had download them all individually.
August 30, 2009 Subject:
Theater Five = OTRules!!!
Simply Put.... Awesome!
Thank you for the all hard work you have put into this website! And especially wonderful is the consistent labeling of details for each episode!! dL speeds are fast too!
August 28, 2009 Subject:
I've listened to the first 10 episodes and I'm hooked!
Enough of the complaining about the zip files seriously now.... GREAT show thanks again OTRR
July 14, 2009 Subject:
these file sizes could be 75% smaller with no quality loss if converted to wma or mp3 with simple FM quality sound
July 10, 2009 Subject:
Singles work for me;Whole Item does not.
Whole directory download stops and will not complete.
April 3, 2009 Subject:
"House of Cards"
A good atomic bomb shelter story - reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode.
April 1, 2009 Subject:
You will become an instant fan!
If you like otr, mystery theatre, twilight zone, etc., then this is for you!Pure fun here.
February 6, 2009 Subject:
I think Theater Five is great!
Enough about the zip file, ok? How about some reviews about episodes of the show instead?
December 2, 2008 Subject:
Zip download fails "Corrupted header" message
Single issues download OK but the total zip file fails to completely download. ????
October 2, 2008 Subject:
I think the ones on this page are single episodes, so you wouldn't need WinZip. Just right click and choose "save" to download the MP3
September 30, 2008 Subject:
"Not a valid archive"
Winzip will not open, error message reading: "does not appear to be a valid archive"